Ovid’s Heroines by James Darnton
Thereby Hangs A Tale Theatre Company
St Michael’s Church
10th June, 2017
Ovid’s Heroines, as the title suggests, resurrects the stories of Ovid’s most interesting female characters in three monologues. These stories speak to the most complex human emotions, and are laden with ever-relevant feminist preoccupation. Milo Morris’s direction sees each monologue surrounded by smoothly choreographed accompaniment, mixing classic Greek dumb show with shades of contemporary dance. He makes the most of his resources and with great capability keeps each monologue from growing stale.
The musical complement of cellist Julia Irvine is a brilliant stroke, giving uncanny accent to the already atmospheric direction. Her eerie strings, coupled with the masked stillness of the unspoken roles, creates impressive dimension in the storytelling.
James Darnton’s adaptation is a sophisticated show of writing, giving accessible clarity to the mythology without losing its depth. He keeps the characteristic sense of sadness pervading the three exiles’ stories and at the same time intersperses comedy. The modernisation of Heroines, however, though often funny, is superfluous at best and awkward elsewhere – keeping its classical setting would have lost nothing.
The heroines themselves are played by three talented actresses bristling with promise. Kat Rose is perfectly attuned to the pathos of Ovid’s Ariadne and spins a personal sense of melancholia, whilst Fionnuala Donnelly brings out the bitter notes of comedy which characterise Hypermestra’s story. Though the last monologue’s pacing drags a little, Natasha Du Prez’s Medea was an accomplished emotional performance which kept up momentum throughout.
A certain allowance of rust must be taken into account in an amateur production, nonetheless Ovid’s Heroines is a mature piece of theatre which maximises its resources to bring a highly interesting body of work to life.
**** – 4 Stars